Saturday, October 13, 2012

Don't Take Anything Personally.

One of the main road blocks to happiness can be other people, they do and say things to hurt us, frustrate us and anger us.  We worry what people will think of us, how they see us, etc., etc., etc.  This doesn't need to be the case, it's a matter of perspective really.  Don Miguel Ruiz, author of "The Four Agreements," explains that the idea of worrying what others think of us is modern.

Ruiz introduces the reader to the Toltec which anthropologist refer to as a race or nation.  Without rewriting Ruiz book, the essential idea is this Toltec society possessed great wisdom's that over the millennia they were forced to conceal the wisdom to protect it from those did not posses the wisdom to use it or who may misuse it for personal gain.

The thing that stood out for me most in Ruiz's book on the Toltec wisdom was chapter three, "Don't Take Anything Personally."  I highly recommend you read the entire book, if you do or don't, the title of this chapter is a very important lesson and one I really needed to learn.  To sum it up in my own words the main idea is, as humans we are wrapped up in our own world and what is going on in our own life.  If someone loves you or hates you, it really has nothing to do with you as their perception of you is based on their own experience.

One of the greatest lessons I learned in my life was hard to hear but is based in too much fact to be able to deny.  I use to think that if a relationship ended there was something wrong with me then one day someone told me, "your not that important."  Now this may sound harsh and indeed at the time it felt that way but I can't deny the truth behind it.  We do not posses as much of people's thoughts as we believe we do and when we do appear in their thoughts it is often based on their own baggage, for lack of a better word.

For example if someone finds you annoying because you talk too much, their annoyance really has nothing to do with you.  However this could trigger something in their own life perhaps as a child they were shushed and not allowed to talk.  Often time though the things we find annoying, annoy us because we do them ourselves.  So usually when there is something we don't like about someone it is because we posses that same trait and it's something we don't like about ourselves.  Most often people aren't aware that they posses this trait that annoys them so but often the things we don't like in others come from an inherent dislike of ourselves.  The next time something bothers you about someone, take a good, honest look at yourself.  Do you do the same thing?  

I read Ruiz's book over a year ago and it was heart lifting to truly know that if someone likes me or not has nothing to do with me, it's all to do with them.  It takes time for this to sink in but when people do things that hurt me I have to remind myself that it has nothing to do with me it is their own issues.  Bottom line is someones opinion of you should have no impact of you what truly matters is that you like yourself.  Self acceptance helps us enjoy the people around us more as we are not worried about what they are thinking about us.  As Ruiz points out, take nothing personal as it has nothing to do with you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Take Refuge

An excellent way to combat stress is to take refuge or as I call it have a scared place.  A place where you can be by yourself to sort out your thoughts calmly.  A lot of people do this by chilling in front of the T.V., having a drink etc., however those aren't the best ideas.

A better way would be to find a stress reducing environment for you, some people make it their bedroom or another special area in the house.  Others take refuge in nature, the valley, the beach etc.  I personally set up a sacred space in my home.  I didn't want it to be my bedroom as that is where I sleep and I didn't want to fall asleep while trying to combat stress, that just turns into avoidance much like drinking or watching t.v.  

My Sacred Space
Instead I took an empty space in my apartment and made it special, I have a Buddha on a table where I also keep my Mala, a candle, my singing bowl and some chimes.  I chose the chimes and singing bowl because I have learned that their vibrations reach us at a cellular level and help us heal.  It is the same reason chant is so restorative.  I also put a picture of my beloved pets there.  Nothing goes there but sacred things, when I want to meditate I light the candle and sit on my meditation cushion in my scared area.  Yours can be what ever you want it to be but make sure it's a sanctuary and not a television.  Be active in combating stress.

Take 15 minutes each day, more if you are particularly stressed, to sit and breath.  Breath deep through your nose into your belly and exhale slowly through the nose.  Take it gently deeper with each breath, imagine you are releasing tension.  I like to imagine a swirl of wind going in through the breath, taking hold of the tension and exiting the body with the exhale.  Use whatever helps you relieve the tension, you may just prefer to focus on the tense area while breathing.  

What ever place you chose should be a safe place where you feel protected.  Refuge means a place of shelter but it isn't taken so literal in this instance.  You should make your place of refuge where ever you feel, safe, protected and free of distraction.  So figuratively, shelter from the storm of life.  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Top 5 Stress Reducers

I just finished reading an article on the top five stress reducers as I was reading the article I was thinking, yeah this makes sense, of course, I know this.  Then it occured to me that it wasn't all the long ago I didn't know all this.

It wasn't until 2008 when I started yoga that I learned that when humans are stressed out we only breath into the upper portion of our lungs.  When stressed out most of us carrying it in the upper chest and back which is why your shoulders and neck often hurt.  As a rule we don't breath properly even when not stressed out and it is purtinant that we stop and breath fully belly breathes.  This helps us get more oxegen and helps rejuvinate our blood flow.  This is always important but especially when we are stressed out as the stress prevents us getting the right amount of oxygen through normal breathing.  So stop inhale deeply through nose until your beely has expanded, hold, then release through the nose.  Three times is a good rule but doing more will not hurt you.  It's easy to incorporate, at your desk, at a red light, while waiting for the bus or in bed.  It is also a good wake up practice as it helps provided energy.  Deep breathing is natures little miracle as it helps energize when needed and helps us rest when needed, what a powerful funtion.

The article next refers to walking and this seems self explanitory but I think the key is how you walk.  It doesn't mean your rushed walk to the bus stop.  More like a relaxed walk where you are mindful of your surroundings.  Breathing properly while walking, taking in sounds, smells, the feel of your body.  Use all five senses when you walk outside, feel the air on your skin, your feet hit the groud.  Your walks will have much more impact on reducing your stress this way.

Walking ust to be a chore for me something I had to do to get to work etc.  Now I've made it a pleasure, I no longer have to walk to work but I have to walk my dog.  This to me is the most joyful parts of my day, I would almost go as far as to say the dog saved my life that is how much he's given me.  When I was stressed out and just wanted the walk over he would refuse to go up my street as he didn't want the walk to be over.  How could I deny him something that is good for him?  It wasn't too long after I started to look forward to our long walks togehter, just him and me.  I can enjoy the fresh air and my surroundings, I focus on my dog and don't consume myself with ruminating thoughts as I use to while I walked.  Walking has brought great peace to my life and it is an activity in which I enjoy the solitude.

From talking to a lot of my friends and people I meet it seems a lot of people are afraid of yoga.  They know of it's benefits to mind, body and spirit but there is something about performing that inherantly scares a lot of people.  It is truly a great stress reducer and the thing about yoga is it is non judgemental, you aren't meant to be a pretzel no matter how go those poses look on the cover of a magazine.   Yoga teaches us that where we are is where we are suppose to be.  If I can't touch my toes, that's ok as it isn't about getting to your toes, it's about embrassing the posture in a comfortable position and taking in breath.  If you can touch your toes one day, great but if not you are still receiving the benefits.  It's about starting where you are and not competing.  Some folks worry people will be watching them but it's truly hard to concentrate on doing yoga and watch someone else.  It simply doesn't happen, I know as my shirt has gone over my head a couple times in downward dog and everything was okay as everyone was in their posture and not focusing on me.  If you haven't given yoga a chance I really encourage you to try it, even at home if that is more comfortable for you.  That's how I started but now that I go to class, I wouldn't give it up for the world.  

The fourth stress reducer the article referred to was meditation, even into my early adulthood I didn't know anything about meditation.  It was something people from other cultures practiced and I had no idea why or how.  Then I learned there is no real how, you just do.  That doesn't mean it is easy, it takes years to master a quiet mind but even before that the benefits are astounding.  I first started to learn about it when I was suffering from depression and anxiety and a doctor referred me to the works of Jon Kabat-Zinn.  I quickly caught on that if mindfulness can do what it claims, I wanted in.  So I began to practice but I didn't know what I was doing so I needed resources, I turned to itunes and found some guided meditations to start.  Meditation Oasis instantly became my favourite and over four years later I am still using it on my iphone.  The next step  was learning to do it on my own so I joined a work group Toronto MBSR Workshop that taught Jon Kabat-Zinn's method and I have gained such relief from having done so.  Now when something upsets me, I can't sleep or I have pain I meditate and have found it's benefits are priceless.  I only wish I had found it sooner.

The final thing the article says will help reduce stress is guided imagery and I agree it is helpful in reducing stress however I do not agree that it should be number five.  I think the author forgot a healthy diet, one that will keep you energized, promote a healthy immune system and will not cause you harm.  So no chips and chocolate bars are not a part of this healthy diet.  Not being a dietary expert I can't tell you what or how to eat but I do know that not eating healthy will lead to fatigue, depression, increased/decreased weight, illness and your body aging more quickly.  It is hard to fight of stress if your body doesn't have the proper nutrients.  We can't be happy if our bodies aren't well and keeping the body well means treating it right.  Feeding it enough food, not too much or too little.  Feeding it the right foods and at proper times of day.  I truly believe if we follow all these steps we will find happiness and peace.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Over the years I have noticed that I have become more and more pleased while giving gifts.  Excited at Christmas for friends and family to see what I had got them.  Then my family started telling me to save my money and not waste it on them.  I did not like this idea and refused to do it.  So it wasn't shocking that I recently learned that giving is a true way to gain happiness.

This may be surprising to us as a culture as we are often caught up in material wants which become needs.  however studies show that shopping for yourself does nothing to increase our personal happiness.  Buying something for someone else increases the hormones associated with happiness.  Brain scans show giving stimulates the same area in the brain as sex and food.  It can be as simple as buying a friend a coffee next time you are out.  

Research from Harvard university proves that, universally, spending our money on others makes people happy.  It doesn't matter what country you are from or you socio-economic status.  And spending money on others certainly makes us happier then spending it on ourselves.  As a person whose had some issues with shopping, I'm definitely going to take this into consideration.  :)

Giving bigger or more expensive gifts do show we experience more happiness.  Giving doesn't have to include buying someone anything.  I recently made my neighbours an afghan, they were away for the weekend when I finished it.  Monday couldn't come fast enough as I couldn't wait to give it to them and it felt so good, it was a happiness that stayed with me.  

There are many other options, pass on a sweater of yours a friend loves.  Give your used books to books to a friend, give a card of appreciation to someone who has showed you kindness. Make a charitable donation.  Volunteer your time.  Have a talent or skill, teach it to someone.  There are many ways to be generous I'm sure readers will have many other ideas.  I would love to hear them.

The important part is to give without expecting anything in return.  One way to get in to trouble with happiness is to have unmet expectations.  Almost all of your expectations will be too high as not everyone thinks like us.  If I expect someone to make a big deal over my birthday because I made a big deal over their birthday could leave me feeling needlessly hurt.  If I didn't hold such expectations I can't get hurt and would end up feeling angry.  Of course this is a simplified example but as humans we get ourselves into trouble this way.  It is best to give, just to give and not expect anything in return, that way you will experience the happiness of giving and not have to suffer from disappointment when your high expectations are not met. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Material Worth Versus Happiness

We are living in a society that idolizes material worth but you knew that already.  As the saying goes the one with the most toys wins.  When it comes to happiness though, studies show that they really don't.  Gandhi knew it and that is why he chose to live a material free life.  Unfortunately when we are surrounded by all kinds of fancy things we come to believe we need them.  Soon our wants become needs and in order to achieve those needs we as a society are working ourselves to death.  Stress and anxiety rates are rising, families are breaking up.  Our children have everything they could ever want but us as we're working to pay for those things.  The children are not happier for it, bullying is becoming a majour issue, children are suffering with depression and anxiety at earlier and earlier ages.

I recently read "Me to We," by Craig and Marc Kielburger who have gone into some of the poorest areas of the poorest countries in the world.  They found happy people.  Of course this doesn't mean that their lives were great or that they had everything they needed it simply means that even though they had little or nothing these people appreciated life and celebrated the very things our society moans about.  

Marc Kielburger told the story of street children in Bangkok, he learned that these boys were working in the sex trade and didn't know who their parents were.  The amazing thing is these children would get together to celebrate birthday's.  Being street kids, they didn't know when their birthday's were so each year they gathered together and celebrated everyones birthday.  It was simply a celebration of life, despite having nothing.  That's an amazing occurrence that westerners could take a lesson from.

Craig visited a tribe in Africa, material good here were few and far between but what Craig noticed was that these people were far greater at sharing, food, tools, anything they had.  He also noted that they were happy and celebrated small blessings that our society often take for granted or even complain about.  How many times have you heard someone groan, "ugh, it's raining again.  My coat is soaked."  In this African tribe the people celebrated the rain and ran out into it to enjoy it.  It is considered natures gift.  This is truly a lesson us westerners need to learn.  Rain gives us food and drinking water, why do we complain about it.  We should be thankful for it but we have lost sight of where true happiness comes from.  We're busy contemplating what cell phone to get next or how to own a bigger house.
Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain.

My challenge to you is, celebrate the little things in life.  Appreciate the things that matter and don't take them for granted.  I'm doing this myself.  Keep a journal of the things you are thankful for.  I keep mine by my bed, that way I go to bed thinking of the things I am thankful for rather then negatives.  Try to keep these things non material.  Think about the person who makes you happiest, the last time you laughed until you cried, all the things that make you happy.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Be Assertive

An important way to remain positive is by being assertive, staying in your own power.  This helps us not be taken advantage of and ensures we stick to our own values and beliefs.

Often times we need to communicate things that aren't always easy.  In our society there seems to be a fear around this as we worry about how it will be received.  We worry about: saying no, setting limits, asking for things and expressing our feelings, thoughts or opinions.  This should not be something we worry about as long as we do it in an assertive and respectful manner.  If the person on the other end reacts negatively, that is their own issue.

If I tell someone how the way their treating me makes me feel and they opt to react negatively, I then know that the problem lies with them and not with me.  For example, "I feel that (name behaviour) is unfair."  I have been assertive and respectful.  I did not blame, call anyone names or accuse anyone of anything, I simply stated how a behaviour made me feel.  If the response is, "this is B.S." they I know this person is not respectful of my feelings.  People who respond like that or in other negative ways do not deserve you as a friend.  If the response is something like, "I'm sorry you feel that way, I didn't know..."  Then the person is at least acknowledging your feelings and showing respect.  

It is important to remember that if a person responds negatively when you have been assertive and respectful, then it is their own issues interfering and really have nothing to do with you.  So if the person responds with, "Well you do..."  Then that is defensive and an attempt to deflect.  Someone assertive and emotionally healthy will not respond this way.  It doesn't mean these people are bad, it just means they are not emotionally healthy or able to respect your feelings.  I don't mean to drop everyone who doesn't respond the way you want them to.  Simply choose to hang around people who can be respectful of your feelings and how they may affect them.  

Remember you do things that affects that person as well so be open to hearing about your own behaviours and how they impact someone.  As long as it is delivered in a respectful and assertive way.  Don't discount things that aren't said in an assertive manner just be selective of what you take on and what you don't.  If someone says, "you're a jerk," I wouldn't put much weight into that.  Basically aim for the behaviour, not the person and surround yourself with those who do the same.  Be mindful though, not everyone has been taught this so if someone is a good friend but they slip, assess whether it's a regular thing that impact how you feel about yourself or just a momentary laps.  If someone is affecting how you feel about yourself in a negative way then please move on.

Formula for Assertive Communication:
The 3 F's below are the core components for assertive communications.

Facts-State the problem objectively 
Feelings-Use I statements, not "You."  express how you feel and think, not something about the other person.
Fair Request-Clear, specific, behaviours.  Not attitude.  "You're really negative," won't work.  Try, "I feel hurt when you criticize my clothes.  I wish you wouldn't make negative comments about my clothes." 

If the above does not work, then you need one more element.
Consequences-If needed can be positive rewards or negative consequences (must be reasonable and do able).  "If you continue to insult my clothes I won't go to parties with you anymore."  Or "If you stop insulting my clothes it would be more enjoyable to hand out with you and I would likely do it more."

I have used a very simply example to demonstrate how this can be applied but I am more then confident you can figure out how to use this in your own life.  You may be thinking, that is basic, common sense stuff.  It isn't always, some people were never taught this.  Others have become so overwhelmed with life that they have placed their tools to the side.  I am writing this as a reminder for both myself and you.  If we don't practice our tools, we lose them. 

Monday, August 13, 2012


See what The Dalai Lama has to say on affection. This post was inspired by an article I read on Yahoo about a woman charging $60 an hour for cuddling.  Now I'm not suggesting we pay someone to cuddle with us what I do want to point out is how important human affection is for our well being.  

While taking my Psychology B.A. I studied cases (prior to ethical rules) that proved an infant will die without human contact/affection.  So this suggests to me that human affection is very important to our soul.  We cuddle our babies, hug our children and then at a certain age that leaves our relationships. 

When was the last time you hugged someone?  Were hugged by someone?  Can't remember?  Time to ask for a hug.  Don't just randomly grab someone and hug them, make sure you have permission.  :)

I'm not going to bore you with a bunch of stats or clinical research, you can look into that if you want.  But one of the key ways to stay postive is affection.  People who hug are happier overall.  This makes sense as people who have supportive relationships are happier and healthier.  

When does hugging become uncomfortable for North American's?  It's not like that in other cultures.  A hug is supportive, caring and kind.  So find someone you love to hug today, it will lead to happier days.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Remove the Negativity Around You!

A life lesson that was hard for me to learn, remove the negativity around you.  Other people who are overwhelmingly negative.  This is a tough one because often these people are friends and or family, they maybe kind and generous and have other good qualities. If their negativity is too much then it's time to make that tough choice.  Sometimes just limiting time with them will help but in some cases you have to remove the cancer.  I say cancer because negativity spreads like a cancer.  Try as you might to stay positive, if you are hanging around someone who is negative it will wear on you.  Often times we pick up the bad habit ourselves and are not even aware of it.  It becomes a competition of sorts, Ms. Negative says, "I'm so tired."  Mr. Negative counters with, "I'm so tired, I had to work 10 hours today and I didn't sleep well last night."   then things snowball from there. 
If you are aware of the persons negativity and do your best not to engage in it, it can unfortunately still have a negative impact as it creeps into your soul and brings you down.  It is too heavy to be around.  My therapist calls these people energy vampires as they suck the energy from you.  One can only with stand hearing so much negativity before it starts to suck the life out of you.
Unfortunately I have had to do this in my own life.  I was an energy vampire, I use to be that person that complained about everything, didn't see the good in the world and just wasn't fun to be around.  I couldn't understand why people didn't want to be around me, I was kind, loving, generous etc.  Then one day someone pointed it out to me and kept reminding me of it.  They were a professional so I was more open to receiving the feedback.  If it had been a lay person I think I would have just felt hurt and continued to complain.  I am thankful now that I got this feedback as it has changed my life.  Once you realize this and change it, you will find it difficult to be around others that do so.
More then once I have had to remove friends from my life as they were too negative and it was keeping me down.  We are should surround ourselves with people who are up lifting and joyful.  I became overwhelmed with hearing about their pain, fatigue, things they were angry with or unhappy about.  Sometimes it's easy, you can just limit your time and they just move on to complaining to others.  Sometimes it is not that easy and you actually have to address the issue.  If this is the case remember to only address the behaviour and not the person.  Don't say things such as, "your too negative."  Try, "I feel impacted when you tell me multiple times how sore your neck is."  The first is an attack, the second is an assertive way to address your feelings, if the person takes offence, it is their issue.  As long as you are assertive, use I statements and don't insult, you are doing all you can.  Just remember you are doing it for the sake of your soul, positivity nurishes the soul, negativity eats away at it. 
This doesn't mean the first time a friend says's my back hurts you should get rid of them.  All of us at some point or another have minor complaints.  It is when the person is overwhelming with their complaints.  Their back hurts and you hear about it for the entire time your out to dinner.  I try to redirect the conversation but some people will not let go and continue to complain.
It is important to have friends that share the same values as you and positivity is an important value.  I have strong opinions and values but an open mind.  I do not judge people based on income, social status, race, religion, sexual orientation etc.  People are people and we have all had different opportunities and challenges that lead us to where we are.  This is another reason I don't like to hang around people who are negative, I often find they are also judgemental.  If you are anti gay, racist or believe the poor are lesser then you, I don't want to be around it or listen to is as it is a very negative and hateful way to live.  I don't want any of that rubbing off on me.  It boggles my mind how people can make comments about people of another race and then say their not racist.  Well what are you then?
Valuable lessons can be learned from everyone in this world if we only take the time to listen.  I had a homeless man who told me, "it's important to remain positive, you won't get anywhere with a bad attitude, that's why I'm always smiling."  What wonderful insight this is, from a man a lot of people chose to judge as, a low life, worthless, lazy, etc.  Funny thing is, he has a better attitude about life then the people who judge him.  I am taking his advice and trying to keep my attitude about the world positive, I hope you will join me in this quest.  Positivity is a much nicer thing to spread then negativity.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Think Like A Dog

Yes, that's right, think like a dog.  Now some of you may already know why I say this.  Other's may be thinking I have just lost my mind.  I am not crazy, dogs are some of the most positive creatures I have ever met. 
Dog's don't judge based on colour, creed, religion, economic or social class.  They don't judge people with disabilities, mental health issues or on anything for that matter.  As long as you treat them with loving kindness they like you.  It doesn't matter if you make a million or are living on the street, their happy to see you and accept you as you are.  A dog never tries to change their human, they just love and accept.  What a beautiful way to live.
Another reason I admire dogs is they never give up or beat them selves up.  I have watched my dog try to get up on the bed that is too high off the ground.  When he misses he doesn't stop, he doesn't say, "I can't do this."  He just keeps going, keeps trying.  As humans we let our thoughts get in the way, our negative self thinking and sometimes we give up.  If we took on the mentality of my little mutt, we would be much kinder to ourselves and never give up on our dreams.
One of the things I love most about my dog is he thinks he's fabulous.  No word of a lie, he struts, he holds his head high and I'm pretty sure he thinks he's the bomb.  Recently the boyfriend and I attempted a home groom, I say attempted.  In the end my dog looked like a Muppet with alopecia.  He was near bald all over, cut far too short except his legs that still had all their hair.  He didn't lose his confidence or charm.  There was no, loss of self-esteem, no concern that he was being laughed at, as he was.  This little guy just held his head high and greeted everyone with the same attitude as when he's perfectly groomed.  Bottom line, he thinks he is fabulous and we need to learn to feel that way about ourselves.  
Live your life as you see yourself, not how others see you.
My dog has never worried what people think of him, he only cares that you are kind to him.  If your not, he doesn't stress or worry about it.  He just moves on. I truly believe that if we all took some lessons from the dogs, we would be a lot more positive and think we are just fantastic.  Wouldn't that be great?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Self Talk

Another way we fall into the trap of negativity is through negative self talk.  We are essentially our own worse enemy as we are our worst critic.  People say things to and about themselves that they would never dream of saying to a friend.  For example if your friend lost her key, would you call her an idiot and ask her how she could be so dumb?  No!  If you did, you wouldn't have a friend for very long.  So why do we talk to ourselves this way?  It's cruel and unusual punishment to subject our self too.

It's time to stop and watch, a lot of the times we do it without even noticing.  Start to take notice, that is the first step.  Notice every time you say something negative to or about yourself, either in your head or out loud.  Once you notice it, say thank you brain but I don't need that (or your own version).  I like to put my negative self thoughts on dragon flies and watch them fly off.  Then insert a positive thought, something kinder and much gentler.  More along the lines of what you would say to a friend or loved one.  With enough practice you will retrain your Brain to be kinder and more loving to you.  

If you need help, ask your friends and family to catch you, you can do the same for them.  It can be a game of sorts. ""Ha ha, that was negative self talk, rephrase it.""  Laugh about it as it really is silly when you think about it.  The most important thing as that you become kinder and gentler with yourself, no matter the method you use.  I have been practicing this for four years and still just the other day I caught myself doing it.  You may think, wow four years and she still does it.  Yes but the important part is I noticed it as soon as it was out of my mouth and I re framed it.  Soon your negative thoughts will stick out like a sore thumb and you will know they don't belong.

It is also good to practice saying kinder things to yourself.  There are many ways to do this; write it down and repeat it,  post it where you will see it the most, use it as a meditation mantra.  I personally like using Mala beads and repeat over and over with each bead what I need to practice.  Have lot's but really focus on the one you need the most.  For me, I needed to practice I am loved so I worked with that one on my mala for months (three usually works, sometimes less, sometimes more).  I also have others on colourful shapes around my apartment.  For example, I am beautiful, I am smart, I am worthy...etc.  If you put real effort into this it can change your life.

Another important way to stay positive is to stop pointing out things that are wrong; I have a headache, I'm tires, my back hurts.  Saying these things only perputates the problem and no one wants to hear it.  Instead of focusing on what hurts, (we all have it and we're all tired) focus on what is good.  Your ankle hurts, say wow my head feels great today.  Your tired, say wow I have enough energy to finish my work day, that's great.  Focus on the good and you will notice a lot of those aches and pains and fatigue will melt away.  Plus people won't dred hearing you complain about how tired you are or how much your back hurts.  It's too heavy and people will either distance themselves from you or tune you out.  Neither are good for maintaining healthy relationships.  So tell them what is good that day, hour, minute.  Your feet hurt, say wow, my feet did a great job of carrying me through my day today, thanks feet.  Sounds corny but it works.  

Bottom line, be kinder to yourself, gentler with yourself and much more loving of yourself.  You will feel better for your efforts.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Self Nurturing

We go through our lives at a very busy pace and often we forget to stop and take care of ourselves.  We've all heard the old adage, "if you don't love yourself, no one else will."  Bottom line is we have to take care of ourselves, treat ourselves with love and kindness.  This sends a direct message to our brain that we are loved and worth the effort.  When we deprive ourselves of self nurturing our self esteem begins to dwindle and then if enough time goes by we forget how to self nurture.  Some of us were never actually taught to self nurture.  Lack of taking loving care of ones self will lead to depression and anxiety, it is not a matter of if but a matter of when.  For these reasons I am listing self nurturing activities and I encourage everyone to engage in at least one self loving activity a day.  More if you have time.  :)  Now my list may not fit every one's taste but it will give you an idea.

  • Take a warm bath
  • Have breakfast in bed
  • Take a sauna
  • Get a massage
  • Buy yourself some flowers
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Walk on a scenic path in a park
  • Have a manicure and or pedicure
  • Stop and smell the flowers
  • Wake up early and watch the sunrise
  • Watch the sunset
  • Relax with a good book or soothing music
  • Watch a funny movie
  • Play your favourite music and dance to it, yes even by yourself
  • Go to bed early
  • Sleep under the stars
  • Play with your pet
  • Take a "Mental Health Day," off work
  • Fix a special dinner just for yourself and eat by candlelight
  • Go for a walk
  • Call a good friend or several good friend (not one who likes to moan about their sore back or how tired they are).
  • Go to a fine restaurant just by yourself
  • Go to the beach
  • Take a scenic drive
  • Meditate
  • Buy new clothes (not if you have shopping issues).  :)
  • Browse a book or record store for as long as you want
  • Spend time with a special person
  • Buy yourself something special that you can afford (again, not if you have shopping issues)
  • Go see a film or show
  • Go to the park and feed the ducks, swing on the swings, etc...
  • Visit a museum or gallery
  • Let yourself dawdle (take more time then needed to do what you are doing)
  • Work on a favourite puzzle or puzzle book
  • Take a hot tub or jacuzzi
  • Record an affirmation tape
  • Write an ideal scenario concerning a situation and then visualize it
  • Read an inspirational book
  • Write a letter (not email) to an old friend
  • Bake or cook something special for yourself
  • Go window shopping (again not if you have shopping problems)
  • Listen to a relaxation CD
  • Listen to a positive, motivational CD
  • Write a diary about your accomplishments or things you are thankful for
  • Exercise
  • Go for a swim 
  • Take a leisurely bike ride  
I could go on and on but you get the idea.  Now I hear a lot of people say they don't have time, there are not enough hours in the day.  There are always enough hours in the day to take care of ourselves, if you watch T.V., surf the net or play video games, then you have time to engage in a self nurturing activity that would serve you far better then any of the above.  Not enough time is just an excuse, stop making excuses and start doing it, you will thank yourself for it.  

Equality for All, What a Good Idea.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Healthy Boundaries

I wanted to start a blog on positivity as I run a women's social group and I thought it would be helpful.  It will also be beneficial for me to help maintain a positive attitude.  :)
One of the main ways to stay positive is to maintain positive relationships, this is one of the areas I find many people struggle with the most.  So this is where I will begin.

A lot of us engage in boundary violations without knowing we are doing anything wrong.  Check and see if you do any of the following.  Non of this is meant to judge as all humans cross boundaries or allow their boundaries to be violated at some point.  This is simply a guide to help you be aware in order to build and maintain healthy relationships.

The following two lists are not simply my opinion but information received while in a cognative behavioural program.  I just thought they would be helpful to others who don't take the course and they would be important to share.

Possible Boundary Violations
Silent treatment
Insults/put downs
Giving ultimatums/orders
Saying "Shut up."
Pressuring others/talking them into something they don't wish to do.
Sarcasm-Saying hurtful or rude things then following it up with, "I'm only joking."
Rolling Eyes
Dirty Looks
Storming/stomping around
Interrupting-Asserting your point when someone is mid sentence.  Changing the subject to you.
Holding Grudges
Acting superior-You think someone is stupid.  (means you have feelings of more then/lesser then)
Stereotyping/prejudice- All immigrants are on welfare.
Refusing to admit when wrong/refusing to apologise
Dominating conversations.-If the person you are with isn't saying much, you may not be giving them a chance.
Denying self/others right to feelings.-Telling someone or believe your feelings are stupid, wrong or too sensitive.
Aggression, verbal or physical.
Constant advice giving-Only give advice if asked.  If someone says my boyfriend broke up with me, be supportive and empathetic but don't give advice.  Giving advice without being asked for it is one of the fastest ways to distance yourself from others, people don't like this, even though you think your helping.
Depriving self or others their privacy.
Being uncooperative.
Chronic Lateness.
Getting even/vengefulness.
Touching someone.
Calling someone "TOO SENSITIVE."

Signs of Unhealthy Boundaries

1. Telling all-When you first meet someone you tell them all about your life, problems, health issues and or physical pains.  This will distance people from you as someone who doesn't know you doesn't need or want all this information.  It's too heavy.  Try asking about the other person, show an interest in the person and what they have to say.

2. Going against personal values or rights to please others-You do things you normally wouldn't or don't speak out against things you do not believe in.

3. Not noticing other's inappropriate boundaries and/or when they invade yours-So if you don't notice when you are crossing other people's boundaries, they likely won't want to hang out with you.  Also if you don't have your own boundaries people will be able to walk all over you and you will feel lesser then.  
An example of crossing other people's boundaries would be invading personal space.  An example of having no boundaries would be telling people all your woe's.

4. Touching a person without asking.

5. Taking as much as you can get for the sake of taking.

6. Giving as much as you can give for the sake of giving.

7. Allowing someone to take as much as they can from you.

8. Letting others direct your life.-A partner telling you when you must eat and what you must eat is just a simple example of this complex issue.

9. Letting others speak for you or describe your reality.

10. Letting others define you.-For example I can't live without him.  I'm no good unless I have a guy.  She likes shopping so I should go with her even though I don't enjoy it, she'll think I like it too, then we will be friends.

11. Believing others can anticipate your needs.-Reality is people cannot read your mind and most people are worried about themselves and their life and aren't thinking about what you need.  You have to tell someone, don't demand.  "You have to spend more time with me," won't work. " I feel lonely and would like some company might work better."  However we cannot expect others to meet our needs, we must be fulfilled in ourselves.

12. Expecting others to fill your needs automatically.-If you say I feel lonely and would like some company, the person may want to help fill that need but in their own time.  If you expect them to drop everything and fill that need immediately you will be disappointed.

13. Falling apart so someone will take care of you.

14. Self-abuse.

15. Sexual or physical abuse.

16. Acting on first sexual impulse.

17. Food and chemical abuse.

18. Talking at an intimate level with someone you've just met.

19. Falling in love with a new acquaintance.

20. Falling in love with anyone who reaches out.

21. Being overwhelmed or pre-occupied by a person.

22. Accepting food, gifts, touch or sex that you don't want.